My father made it clear that he felt I had a clear vendetta against him. I could do no right as everything I did aggravated him or in his view was to hurt and annoy him. He often told me, one day he’d die because of me. My behaviour and attitude would push him so far that he’d have a heart attack from all the stress I caused.
In our usual place of arguments – the supermarket – my father chose to announce this “vendetta” I had against him.
As I pushed the trolley behind my Dad (he never allowed me to be in front as that would mean I was leading him around), I asked him how much longer we would be. An hour and twenty minutes had already passed. He ignored my question.
It was a busy afternoon and the store was packed. I would occasionally have to pause to let an elderly lady through or stop to pick up food for myself. My father never turned back to see where I was. Instead, he expected me to find my way to him through the maze and traffic of endless consumers. If I did lose him, panic would usually follow. I knew that if I did not reach him in time he would get very upset. You see, I needed to be there when he was ready to put something in the trolley.
When I did not reach him in time and finally discovered what aisle he was in, my father had already worked himself up. His facial expression had changed and I could predict what was coming.
“And where have you been? I’ve been standing here with all this fruit waiting for you. Do you expect me to chase after you? You should keep up, not drag your lazy feet. Look, you’ve delayed me now”.
I had no response other than to apologise. He did not acknowledge it. He just carried on walking.
I wanted to get out of that aisle as quickly as possible, I had begun to get some odd looks from other shoppers.
As my father bounded down the supermarket, I hurried to keep up. I knew he was doing it deliberately, it was like a test. A test that I was clearly going to fail. He loved seeing me fail.
All of a sudden, my Dad stopped abruptly. I had been so intent on keeping to his pace that the trolley knocked the back of his leg. I apologised profusely. I was genuinely worried I may have hurt him but inside I was dreading his reaction, I could feel the explosion rising.
He let out an almighty roar and swore at me. His rage was terrifying and it took me by so much shock that I almost forgot where we were. Heads turned, people gasped and it only got worse.
“You idiot!! Are you trying to kill me?!” He screamed at full volume.
I stood there silently with my head lowered. I could not look up. I felt eyes all over me, watching this twenty-six year old woman be humiliated by her father. As I walked away slowly, another thought entered my head, something I had often thought before:
Maybe they don’t think he is my father.
Maybe they think he is my husband.
Someone once made that judgement on our relationship; a complete stranger. They tried to reassure me in the supermarket on another occasion when my father erupted. She was clearly a wife, perhaps even an abused wife, she said to me,
“Don’t worry, my husband is a lot older than me too. Older men are like that”.
I was horrified and immediately sickened.
Her face automatically dropped when I responded,
“He’s not my husband; he’s my father”.